I just returned from a visit with friends in Asheville North Carolina, the spiritual twin of Santa Fe, the wet green version of the City Different. Like Santa Fe, Asheville is set in mountains, and has more eccentrics and creative people per square foot than other cities its size. I loved it.
As well as the company of the warm, loving people who welcomed me into their home, I had the pleasure of hiking in mountains full of waterfalls. I had no idea there could be so many in one place. Some are roaring, towering torrents, while another flows across a slope of rock in such a way that water forms patterns like shells made of lace. The sound of each fall is unique, a song as hypnotic as the ocean.
My friends’ five-month-old baby seemed to go into a bliss state in the woods. Indoors, he can fuss like a champion, like any baby, but on the trails he was in nirvana for mile after mile. Even when it rained, he either slept, or licked raindrops off his carrier. His parents take him hiking a lot. I like to think this is giving him a nature-mind, an affinity for the shapes of trees, the sound of waterfalls and the smell of earth.
We visited one of the local “gemstone mines.” I know there are real mines with emeralds and other precious and semi-precious stones in the North Carolina mountains, but this was more of a game, where you can sift a bucket of dirt tray by tray and see what shows up. Strangely, it was more fun than seeing crystals on shelves and shopping. I like mystery and suspense. When I got home, of course I looked up the healing properties of my new acquisitions.
I just finished writing my short story prequel for the Mae Martin series, set during her childhood in her native North Carolina mountains. It was good to visit my protagonist’s roots and be reminded of all its details, from waterfalls to emeralds to hot boiled peanuts, and to be around people who talk like her. I’ll have to take her back there in one of the later books. It’s an extraordinary place.
Rainbow Falls: http://www.romanticasheville.com/rainbow_falls.htm